Things To Do This Week And Other Holiday Fun

Enjoy free ice skating at Millennium Park this holiday season!

Whether you go museum hopping with your family, strap on skates to go ice skating at one of dozens of free rinks around the city, or take an architectural boat cruise on the Chicago River (bundle up!) there’s lots of wintertime fun to be had this week.  Make the most of all the art, music, theater and other family activities 2011 has to offer before it’s gone!

Stay out of the cold and go museum-hopping with your loved ones!

  • Enjoy a variety of family activities during the Art Institute of Chicago’s Holly Days Festival.  Stop by the museum’s Ryan Education Center to create paper animal sculptures, explore yoga and storytelling with Kalapriya, and partake of an interactive gallery walk, 11am-3pm daily through Friday, December 30; free admission.
  • Hear some of the Chicago area’s most highly regarded ensembles and performers at the Art Institute’s Midday Music series, every weekday from 11am-1:30pm, through December 31; performances are included in museum general admission.
  • Take advantage of the Shedd Aquarium’s Jingle Rockin’ evenings (5 – 9 pm) through Friday, December 30, and enjoy extended museum hours nd a special admission rate of $20/person that includes admittance to all museum galleries, exhibitions including Jellies, and the winter aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea.
  • Hands on activities, family workshops and Mars-themed events await visitors at the Adler Planetarium during this Charter One Family Week, daily through Friday December 30.  All activities are included with general museum admission.
  • See Chicago artist Ian Sherwin create a miniature Field Museum – entirely out of white chocolate – in conjunction with the Field’s Chocolate Around the World exhibition, 11am-3pm daily through Friday, December 30.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibit continues through January 9.  See over 50 dazzling trees and displays reflecting holiday customs from all over the world.  This exhibit is included with general admission, $10-15. Check out our Q&A with the museum’s Grand Tree for a tree’s-eye view of the festivities!
  • Don’t miss Free Admission Day at the DuSable Museum is this Sunday!  Museum admission is free for all Illinois residents.
  • For information on the Lincoln Park Zoo, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and Chicago’s many other Always Free Attractions, click and/or share this link:
  • For more information about Chicago’s free museum days, click here.

Bundle up for awesome cold weather fun at some of Chicago’s most popular attractions – indoors and out!

  • Step into a winter wonderland at Zoolights, the Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual holiday display featuring over two million twinkling lights, ice carving, and other winter fun, open nightly.  We sat down with the zoo’s resident snowman, Humphry Snowgart, to get an inside scoop on the festivities!
  • Strap on your skates and hit the ice at Millennium Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink! Free admission if you B.Y.O.Skates, and skate rentals are available onsite for $10. Open daily through March 11.
  • Delight in the Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Winter Flower and Train Show! See model trains wind their way through poinsettias and a miniature village. Open daily, 9am-5pm, and admission is FREE.
  • Explore 170,000 square feet of rides, inflatable slides, stunning lights and holiday décor, entertainment and more at Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest. Admission is free, but wristbands to participate in any activity are $15-18; open daily through January 8.  Hockey fans – don’t miss a chance to meet former Chicago Blackhawk Tony Esposito and get an autograph at the indoor ice rink, Thursday, December 29, between 3 and 4:30 pm!
  • Take your family for an ice skating excursion at a Chicago Park District ice rink!  Admission is free and skate rentals are available onsite for a nominal fee if you don’t have your own to bring!
  • Take a free guided tour of this Beaux arts landmark building this Friday and Saturday at 1:15 pm.  See the world’s largest Tiffany glass dome and other stunning architectural gems in the ‘People’s Palace’.

Experience Chicago’s world class culture and architecture in the Loop and the neighborhoods!

  • Discover the history and architecture of the world’s most famous shopping street with Magnificent Mile Instagreeter!  Offered Fridays and Saturdays through the holidays, this is final weekend to take a free, guided exploration of North Michigan Avenue’s historic hotels, soaring cathedrals, and landmark buildings!
  • Also wrapping up this weekend is Lightscape, a one-of-a-kind installation up and down State Street that features color and light choreographed to music, Daily, 8am-11pm daily, free admission. While there, enjoy Winter WonderLoop discounts at State Street restaurants and retailers.
  • How to discover Chicago’s amazing architecture and keep from freezing?  Take a Chicago Detours Loop Interiors walking tour this Saturday and Sunday, and explore the beautiful interiors of notable Loop buildings via the handy, underground Pedway!
  • Explore the architectural jewels of Chicago’s downtown with a free guided walk of the Loop.  Loop InstaGreeter walks depart between 10 am – 4 pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Visitor Information Center.
  • Take an architectural boat cruise with Shoreline Sightseeing!  Unseasonably mild weather means Shoreline boats are still operating on the Chicago River this Thursday – Saturday, as well as on New Year’s Eve to offer you front row seats to Navy Pier’s annual fireworks display. Click here for a daily updated tour schedule.

Catch a holiday show or two (or three) this weekend!

  • See young Ralphie’s hilarious quest to get a Red Ryder Air Action BB gun come to life onstage in A Christmas Story, The Musical!.  Keep your eye out for the beloved holiday film’s iconic leg lamp as this show runs through December 30 at the Chicago Theatre.
  • Redmoon’s Winter Pageant 2011 features a show within a show – one for kids and the other for their parents, starring the kids – that plays on 1950s cabaret standards morphed into children’s songs, and promises plenty of bizarre music, mayhem and fun for the entire family. Shows are Saturdays and Sundays through January 8, Tickets: $10-20.
  • The Goodman Theater presents their annual production of A Christmas Carol.  See the Charles Dickens classic and keep your eyes peeled for surprise cameos by special guests! Through December 31, Tickets: $16-45.
  • Broadway in Chicago’s La Cage aux Folles is playing now through January 1 at the Bank of America Theatre.  Catch this hilarious production – the winner of three Tony awards – before it’s gone!

Make up your own wintertime adventure this weekend!

For even more upcoming events, visit